The death reference – trial court documents – of a case concerning the planting of a 76-kilogramme bomb in Kotalipara Upazila of Gopalganj in a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina 20 years ago, has reached the High Court for confirmation of the sentence of 14 militants of banned Islamist outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad Bangladesh (Huji-B).
This was conveyed to journalists on Tuesday by Barrister Saifur Rahman, special officer of the Supreme Court. Earlier on Monday, the death reference reached the concerned branch of the High Court.
Sources in the higher court said the chief justice will now assign a bench of the High Court to hear the death reference. Also, if the imprisoned accused move petitions against their convictions, the court will hear the appeals and the death reference at the same time.
Earlier on 23 March, a speedy trial tribunal in Dhaka ordered the execution of the militants.
The death row convicts are: Azizul Haque alias Shahnewaz, Lokman, Yusuf alias Moshab Moral, Moshab Hasan alias Rashu, Sheikh Md Enamul Haque, Mofizur Rahman alias Mofiz, Mahmud Azhar alias Mamunur Rashid, Rasheduzzaman alias Shimul, Tareq, Wadud Sheikh alias Gazi Khan, Anisul Islam, Sarwar Hossain Mia, Maulana Amirul Islam alias Jennat Munshi, and Maulana Rafiqul Islam Khan.
Of the accused, Azizul, Lokman, Yusuf, Enamul, and Moshab are on the run.
On 22 July, 2000, a powerful bomb was found on the premises of Sheikh Lutfar Rahman Government Adarsha College in Kotalipara, while a stage was being prepared for a public meeting of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. A team of army personnel dug up the ground and recovered the bomb weighing 76 kilogrammes. The next day, another bomb weighing 40 kilogrammes was recovered.
In this incident, the police filed three cases with Kotalipara Police Station for the attempted murder of Sheikh Hasina, on charges of conspiracy for assassination and sedition, under the explosives control act.
The trial court in August 2017 sentenced 10 militants to death and 13 to various terms of imprisonment in a case of attempted murder, under the explosives control act. Following an appeal in the attempted murder case, the High Court upheld the death sentence of 10 militants on 17 February. The sentences of one convict sentenced to life imprisonment and two convicts sentenced to 14 years have also been upheld. Another person sentenced to 14 years has been acquitted by the High Court.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) filed a charge sheet with the court on 15 November, 2001, in the case of conspiracy to commit murder and treason. On 21 November, 2004, the court framed charges against the 14 accused. Of the 50 prosecution witnesses, 34 testified. The submission of arguments in the case ended on 11 March.